A Valentine for Small Business

We live in a country dominated by negativity, bad actors and mediocrity. Entrepreneurs are a group that has an untapped supply of optimism and remains community-focused.

After four years of living with a nasty, petty and foul-mouthed dictator who still exists on the scene spewing his fake venom, it is not surprising that common courtesy, civility and what we used call good humour (not frozen) have disappeared from our daily lives. We don’t teach our children about etiquette and duty. Instead, we teach them self-defence and security. It’s a terrible way to live.

Thanks to the constant abuse of social media, lies and absurd denials made by many Republican politicians, we have become an angry, irritable, and short-tempered society. We are no longer interested to learn and listening, but we want to own and lecture the morons on either side. Everybody is suspicious, everyone is to be trusted, and everything is about making the most of the money and beating the next guy.

When you feel defeated and believe there is no way out, you can always find an entrepreneur (or several entrepreneurs) who are still smiling and keeping their feet on the ground. They have the determination and passion for persevering through even the most difficult times. Entrepreneurs never lose sight that their ultimate goal is to help others. There’s no need to give up or feel sorry for yourself. Only there is upward and onward. Their enthusiasm, energy and eagerness to grow and expand are infectious. F. Scott Fitzgerald stated, “It was only a smile, and it cost little in the giving. But like the morning light, it scattered the night and made the day worthwhile.”

One message that is at the heart of entrepreneurship is the belief that anyone can create a business that positively impacts the lives of thousands. It’s not an easy road to entrepreneurship. There will always be bumps along the way, but you end up with something you can be proud of, which is important.

One fundamental idea that media often overlooks in their pursuit of the next unicorn is that it’s not about how big a company is, but what services they provide and who they support. It is possible to add great value and help your local charities by supporting bake sales or book drives. It used to be a common question about how larger businesses could get before they got bad.

For me, it’s important to celebrate and encourage those who get the job done and do so well. One Chicago-based company, Flowers for Dreams, is approaching its 10-year mark. It’s just a few dollars away from reaching its goal to donate $1 million to various charities. This is based on the sales of floral bouquets. Every bunch of flowers that the company sells, it donates to charity. Flowers for Dreams began as a group of students who sold roses at graduations and football matches and gave away backpacks to students in need. They graduated in 2012 and began the business. It has grown from there.

Out of all the new business models that have been created in the last decade, those that give something away for every dollar of sales are the most heartfelt. Tom’s and Allbirds and Bombas have changed our perception of capitalism. Some of these outfits have also achieved the coveted unicorn status.

There’s still plenty of space for smaller companies like Flowers for Dreams with modest goals. It was not that long ago that a million dollars were considered a large sum of money. This is true for many charities these guys work with. It’s a great idea to visit their website and send flowers to someone you care about. You might also find a company that shares the same mission in your area. This is a great way to remind yourself that you don’t make a living off what you get. But what you give is what makes a difference.

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